Monday, April 29, 2013

Curtis' Thirteenth Post

"On my way into San Francisco I drove along the beach and then into Golden Gate Park, but the overcast skies made the scene less than ideal. I did stop, however, at the Palace of the Legion of Honor with a tip of the hat to our friend Philippe who lives in France. This building is 3/4 scale version of the Palais de la Legion d’Honneur in Paris and has a collection of sculptures by Auguste Rodin whose museum is also in Paris. His “Thinker” can be seen in the courtyard beyond the portico, though I understand this man’s work has been replicated and each piece is found at multiple locations. Nonetheless, it is wonderful to have these powerful pieces as part of the permanent collection of what is an outstanding museum.

The Palace is on a hill so turning east one can look over the surrounding golf course toward downtown. Again, a black and white image makes sense for it conveys the feel of the day.

As I drove into the city, having traveled less than ten miles, I found some sun. I also found what I’d hoped to photograph, a few of the Victorian houses so much associated with San Francisco. Most often the tight spaces required I shoot with the 24 f/2.8 N.C. AI’d, Nikki’s companion from the early nineteen seventies when both lenses were in production. I wandered through streets south of what is called “the panhandle” that leads to the Golden Gate Park. If you see a map of the area you’ll understand how that name makes sense.

The last shot above was taken at Alamo Square, a favorite spot for tourists to capture photos of Victorians with the downtown skyline in the background.  This is one such shot, also taken with the 24mm lens.

But Nikki got in the act as well...

Next we’ll take a ferry ride, courtesy of a friend who bought a ticket for me when I told her the story about Nikki’s journey and of my intention to travel the city by cable car.  She takes the ferry regularly to work and when I mused about what delight that might be for a photographer, she made her surprise gift.  Thanks Joan!"

Curtis' Twelfth Post

"The last part of my adventure with Nikki included two visits to San Francisco, the first by car, the second by ferry. Over the next few posts I’ll highlight those two journeys.

I’ll begin with a series of photos of Golden Gate bridge from the south. Since I live on the north side of the bridge virtually all the photos I’ve shared online have been taken from Marin Headlands, Fort Baker or other north bay locations. I’ll begin with a classic shot taken from Baker Beach just south of the bridge, then move closer. Most of the photos were taken with the 85 f/1.8 H.C. AI’d we lovingly refer to as Nikki, but when I need a wider perspective I used the 24 f/2.8 N.C. AI’d, a lens of the same era as Nikki.

As often happens there is fog sliding through the Golden Gate that shrouds the bridge and San Francisco. On the opposite shore you will see the sun is shining in Marin County where I live. Differences in micro-climate are great because of the proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the series of bays around which the cities of the region were built. The saying is “if you don’t like the weather wait three days or drive ten miles...”

Here’s a shot conveying the “feel” of the day. It was windy and chilly close to the beach.

But you can see blue sky in Marin...

I’d parked on the west side of the bridge approach and walked through a passageway beneath the road, which gave me some great views of the bridge structure.  Here’s a shot taken with the 24mm lens, black and white, again to convey the feel of the day.

And a few details...

The bridge structure at the southern approach to the suspended span rests on rubber cushions as shown in the second photo above.  Because we’re in earthquake country bridge designers had to permit movement during a seismic event.  The guides hold the bridge in place but there is room for movement when needed.

But most lovers of this bridge come for its beauty rather than is structural design.  Here is a postcard shot taken with the 24mm lens.

And this is what happens at the bridge all day, every day except perhaps when it is raining.  Folks stand with the bridge in the background and have friends take their photo as happened for this woman.  Her friend was standing next to me sizing up her shot.  My wide lens caught the woman so here you are.

Now back in my car for a journey into San Francisco.  I’ll share one more photo of the bridge taken from a public golf course that overlooks the Golden Gate which is the entrance to the bay for which the bridge is named, then move on."

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Curtis' Eleventh Post

"In many ways Mount Tamalpais is part of my front yard. Over the years I’ve hiked thousands of miles on the trails that run through Mount Tamalpais State Park and the Marin Municipal Water District. The trailhead is about ten minutes from my door. I’ve walked over the top from Muir Woods and around the top from Lake Lagunitas. It is a playground for locals and a magnet for tourists. It is also a favorite location for shooting car commercials. I’ll show you why in this photo of Nikki... shot with the 35 f/2 O AI’d that was manufactured a few years before Nikki came on the scene.

I realized when putting this together than most of the photos I took from Mount Tamalpais are panoramas that simply won’t work with this format. I’ll include links a few of those for anyone who wants to check them out.

The first two photos are stitched images captured with Nikki. The last is a stitched image created with the 24 f/2.8 N.C. AI’d.

But I have another series of photos taken adjacent to Shelter Bay where a seaplane is based. I grabbed a series of images of the plane taking off, shot with Nikki. Across the water is Sausalito."

Curtis' Tenth Post

"Muir Woods is another place in which a medium range telephoto lens will not excel, so many of the photos in this post will have been taken with a wider lens, the 24 f/2.8 N.C. AI’d that arrived in my kit shortly before Nikki arrived. In fact, the two lenses were produced by Nikon during precisely the same time period, from 1972 to 1975. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that there were five times as many of the 24mm lens made as the 85. They are both beautiful lenses to hold and use.

From Muir Woods I took the road that led up and over Mount Tamalpais.  My next post will cover that part of my adventure, then we’ll be heading across the Golden Gate bridge for the first of two visits to San Francisco.  I had a very busy time with Nikki…  and, to be honest, I was very happy to put her in a box and ship her home to Sydney.  

But I'm not done posting photos..."

Curtis's Ninth Post

"I took Nikki to the East Bay for part of one day. My partner Sue did some shopping and I followed around with camera in hand putting Nikki to work. Here are some photos taken in Berkeley, which some call “Bezerkeley...” Politics in this university town can be quite contentious. Berkeley has declared itself a “nuclear free zone” despite the fact there is a cyclotron on the U.C. campus and a number of renowned physicists are on the faculty. There are five Nobel Prize winners in physics on the current faculty. The University is also associated with Lawrence Livermore Laboratory where much research is done in nuclear weaponry. Here is a video created by students telling the history of the “nuclear free zone.”

Berkeley is perhaps the pre-eminent public university in the United States but the politics in the town is brutal. I worked for many years in public administration and it was well understood that taking a job in Berkeley was not wise. Their city council meetings often go late into the night. 


Sue turned around at one point as we walked on Solano Avenue and gave me a wave.

When we visited Fourth Street I noticed these police officers in front of the Apple store.  I don’t know what the man in handcuffs I encountered later had done, but it was clearly serious business.

Next we’ll head back to Marin for a visit to Muir Woods, a National Park on the south slope of Mount Tamalpais.  I live to the north of the mountain."

Friday, April 26, 2013

Curtis' Eighth Post

"Folks familiar with how I shoot know I enjoy taking closeup photos of flowers, often with extension tubes attached. I’d like to share some of the photos I took with Nikki during her visit, with and without tubes. She is definitely up to the task..."